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Welling United 2-2 Dartford (3-5 pens)
Welling United 2-2 Dartford (3-5 pens)

Although neither Welling United nor Dartford are prioritising the Kent Senior Cup, both teams put everything into a competitive game that went all the way.

Steve King played a number of fringe players in his Dartford starting line-up, but Wings’ manager Warren Feeney did not have the luxury of experienced players to bring in and had to call on the academy and give debuts to four under eighteens, all of whom had played the full ninet minutes one day earlier.

In the first half, Welling were much the better team and might have gone ahead early on when Alfie Matthews pulled back to Henry Burnett, but he shot just wide. At the other end Danny Leonard’s shot was kept out by the legs of Sam Jackson but Welling were soon on the attack again when Reice Charles-Cook saved from Lewis Haywood.

It came as no surprise when Welling went ahead. Haywood’s flick cause problems and it fell for Burnett whose shot took a deflection on its way into the net.

Cameron Andrews continued to pull the strings in midfield and Mason Saunders-Henry had a snap shot beaten out by Charles-Cook before he shot wide after Dartford struggled to clear.

Burnett scored his and Welling’s second in the thirty-first minute when Harvey Bradbury knocked it into his path, and he fired home giving Charles-Cook no chance.

Matthews had a shot deflected wide whilst the best that Dartford could manage was a long range George Porter strike that rolled harmlessly wide.

At the interval, Welling took Bradshaw off, presumably to keep him fresh ahead of Saturday’s important league game, meaning that Haywood was more isolated up front.

Saunders-Henry continued to look threatening and surged forward but shot wide before another long range shot required Charles-Cook to get down well to save.

After that, Dartford took control and Leonard picked out Jake Robinson with a cross, but he could only head straight at Jackson. Then Leonard cut in from the right wing, however his left footed shot was saved easily.

Ody Alfa had a deflected shot kept out by Jackson and Robinson followed up, but Jackson recovered quickly to turn it around the post.

With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Dartford pulled one back when Che Krabbendam crossed to the far post, Leonard pulled it back, and Jordan Greenidge crashed it home from close range.

They then piled on the pressure and a goalmouth scramble ended with Leonard hitting the outside of the post. The Darts might have equalised soon after when Dan Roberts hit the bar from ten yards out.

However, they should have been reduced to ten men when a horrific flying challenge by Olu Durojaiye was punished only with a yellow card.

With the referee preparing to blow his final whistle, Dartford had one last attack and Roberts burst through and was brought down by Jackson. Robinson stepped up and converted from the spot and the game went to penalties.

The first seven were converted to put the Darts four-three up before Charles-Cook saved from Tom Derry. It was tough on Derry who had played so well as emergency centre-back, but it left Robinson with the task of finishing the tie, and he did so by firing into the bottom corner.

Dartford will play Hythe Town or Folkestone Invicta in the final at a venue and on a date to be arranged.

Welling United: Jackson, Church, McMillon, Andrews, Derry, Pearce, Saunders-Henry, Burnett (Wells 68), Hayward, Bradbury (Stevenson 46), Matthews (Allen 61).

Subs not used: Ryan, MacDuloy.

Goalscorers: Burnett (21), (31)

Yellow cards: Bradbury, Andrews, Haywood, Jackson

Dartford: Charles-Cook, Durojaiye, Wynter (Mansaray 64), Bonner, Leonard, Krabbendam (Jebb 90+7), Hyde, Porter, Robinson, Greenidge, Alfa (Roberts 68).

Subs not used: Boulton, Azeez.

Goalscorers: Greenidge (73), Robinson pen (90+6)

Yellow cards: Krabbendam

Referee: Aji Ajibola

Assistants: Paul Yates and Joe McCory

Fourth Official: Billy Woods

Attendance: 474

Pictures supplied by Dave Budden.